The Monday night fire of two ships carrying gas near the Kerch Strait in Crimea, most likely caused 20 deaths, Russian authorities announced Tuesday.
Rescue teams rescued 12 sailors and found 10 bodies, told AFP Alexei Kravchenko, spokesman for the Russian Federal Maritime and River Transport Agency.
Another 10 sailors are still missing and are supposed to be dead, he said. "There's no hope of finding them alive, it's no longer a rescue operation," he said, adding that the missing people sank "before the eyes of rescuers" without life jackets.
The fire started at a time when they transferred fuel from one ship to another, so both crews jumped overboard.
The "Kandy" and "Maestro" boats, of the flag of Tanzania, count on crews coming from India and from Turkey.
The "Kandy" had a crew of 17 members, and the "Master" of 15, according to the Russian authorities.
"Our embassy in Moscow is in permanent contact with the Russian agencies interested in obtaining more information on the affected Indians and to provide the necessary assistance," the Indian authorities said in a statement.
According to Alexéi Kravchenko, the fire has not yet been extinguished. "There's an infinite amount of fuel there," he said.
The place where the accident occurred is located near the Kerch Strait, which has become a new source of tension between Russia and Ukraine.
In November, Russia fired and boarded three Ukrainian navy vessels in the Strait, triggering the first direct military incident between Kiev and Moscow since 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula.